Thursday, July 31, 2008

Helsinki in a Hurry

Continued from Part 1
JoeHaving stayed on deck until we were actually docked, we then headed back to our cabin to pack up for the day, and so doing missed the initial rush of disembarkation. So we instead had a leisurely stroll down the long gangway to the Katajanokka Terminal, a reasonable modern if still somewhat under construction terminal building which serves not just Viking Line but a couple of smaller ferries as well. We had hoped to arrive at the Makasiini Terminal, which is on the other side of the harbor and thus only a couple of blocks from the Tourist Info center, where you can purchase a day pass for the busses and trams. It turns out we needn't have worried, though, as there was a ticket machine just outside the Viking Terminal which had English instructions. Two minutes later, and 12 EUR lighter in the pocket, we were armed with a pair of 24 hour bus passes and on our way to the nearest tram stop.

Come Helsinki O'er High Water...

Jennifer When your coffee breaks start lasting for an hour, you know it's time to take a vacation. So I took this week off from work to recharge, and we decided to take a trip to Helsinki. Joe found us some tickets on Viking Line, which is one of the companies that specializes in trips around the Baltic. Due to unusually low booking for this particular trip, we got a pretty good deal, 900 SEK for both of us for two nights, in a cabin above the waterline. (Normally the cheapest accomodations are one deck below the car deck, with shared facilities.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Moving Part III: At the Sign of the Bloodstone

Joe We've been here a few weeks now, so I guess we're as settled in as we're going to get. High time to get around to describing our new digs.

This apartment is definitely larger, about 20% larger actually, but naturally we've expanded to fill the space in the few short weeks we've been here. The most welcome space is in the kitchen. Those of you who have seen any of our previous kitchens will no doubt recognize that I'm not saying much when I state that this is the largest kitchen we've had in our life together, but I'll take it a step further and say that this is the first time we've been able to work in the kitchen side by side. It also has a space for a table, with a roughly south facing window and door opening out onto our small balkong, great for growing a few kitchen window herbs.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Working Conditions Part II

Jennifer So it's summer and the weather has turned sunny and hot. Why, it got up to a high of 26°C today.

In these conditions (maybe the fact that the boss is on vacation this week helps), the overall work rate has slowed to a snail's pace. There are lots of nice big yellow land snails around here, so I now have a basis for understanding this cliche. (Actually they can move faster than I'd thought.) This morning, on my floor of the department, there were only foreigners and two Swedish staff members, one of whom just got back from 3 weeks vacation, and the other of whom starts her vacation this Friday. The latter confessed that she is counting the hours.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Double Vision

JoeWhat's that they're building in the parking lot of the Uppsala Ikea?
Yes, it's another Ikea. I suddenly feel like I'm living in a Starbucks joke.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Two Swedens

JoeWell, we're all moved in to our new place, but meanwhile summer is flying by, and it's high time for us to start using some of Jennifer's copious vacation time. With that in mind, Tuesday we took a trip to Skokloster Castle on Lake Mälaren.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

They're here!

JenniferThe berry monger downtown finally has them: Svenska körsbär.

Some wise person once said something like there is no ending without a new beginning, and with the end of jordgubbar comes the beginning of cherry season. A mere 35 SEK gets you the half kilogram or so pictured here, which is enough to serve approximately 1 Michigander. Okay, one Michigander from my family, anyway. And they are tasty little suckers. Are they as good as Michigan cherries? Well, my papa always taught me "When you're not with the berry you love, love the berry you're with" (except that I can't think of a berry I don't love). So right now, yes, these are better than Michigan cherries. Because they're the cherries I have. And they're mine, all mine... I have to go now. More soon about our adventures today that ended with walking past the berry monger downtown, and this exciting discovery!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Movie Review

JoeAs I have been summoned, so I appear. Here is my official review of M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening":

It really sucked.

Worst. Movie. Ever. (Yes, "Battlefield Earth," I'm talkin' to you.)

A "happening"

Jennifer So I need to interrupt Joe's "Lord of the Moving Van" trilogy here to report a happening.

G. is attempting to start a movie club in the department, where we go see a movie in a theater once a month or so, because it's just fun to go to theaters. He has enjoyed the movies of M. Night Shyamalan in the past, so this week's email suggested that we go see "The Happening." So Joe and I met him and J., V., and another student from another department at the Royal 2 (which is the movie theater right underneath our old apartment on Dragarbrunnsgatan), at about 20:30 for a movie start time of 20:45.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Moving Part II: The Road to Eriksberg

JoeAs smooth as the preparations for moving had gone, I was apprehensive on a few fronts as we actually approached the day itself. Some of my worry centered around renting a moving truck in a foreign country I had never driven in before, but primarily my concerns were temporal. The problem is that Swedes appear to have no notion of pro rating; apartment companies expect you to pay a full month's rent for each calendar month you live in the apartment, so even if you keep the apartment for only one week in July, they want rent for the whole month. As a result of this, there are pretty tight tolerances on apartment-to-apartment moving here. If your lease is paid until the end of June, you have until noon on July 1 to turn in the key to your empty and cleaned apartment; unfortunately for you, the possessors of the apartment you are moving into also have until noon to turn in their key, so there's no period of overlap during which you can start to move some of your stuff.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Moving Part I: The Scouring of Flogsta

JoeMoving week is over now, and we made it successfully to our new place, which we like very much.That's the short version.The longer version will be told in three parts, and begins last weekend, as we packed up our apartment in earnest. Flashbacks aside, it really was not a traumatic packing experience, easy enough that we actually felt justified in taking evenings off and relaxing a bit. Maybe there's something to be said for this whole not having a ridiculous amount of stuff thing.Even with our limited quantity of belongings, as we cleaned out the apartment we did manage to generate a fair amount of trash and recycling. At Flogsta Låghus, as at pretty much every apartment complex in Uppsala, both of these are handled in tiny buildings next to each apartment block, and on days around the end of the month when there's a lot of coming and going these rooms are occasionally filled with interesting stuff. As I was making a recycling run on Sunday I was reminded of this fact (the wide-screen television sitting outside the trash room was a hint), and so as a break we decided to take a tour of some of the recycle rooms to see if there was anything we desperately needed.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4 fika

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all persons are created normal and equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Fika."
JenniferSo even though I hosted a fika just a couple weeks ago, I thought I would do one again for the Fourth of July, in recognition of the fact that I have never in my life gone to work on this day of the year. But what's a typical American thing to have on the 4th that I can get here and that goes with fika? Ice cream was the best I could come up with. I didn't think it would work so well to bring ice cream on the bus, but graduate student Z. had volunteered to bike to the corner grocery and buy it for me during the day. She also picked up a box of blueberries (frozen—they're not in season yet of course) and I had brought in a half kilo of fresh strawberries to cut up and put over the ice cream. See the clever red-white-and-blue color scheme?